The dashboard in a vehicle holds all of the various gauges and instruments as well as the radio and any GPS devices. The passenger side dashboard also typically holds an airbag on more current models. The dashboard generally features padding to cushion blows during an accident. Made up of polyurethane foam, this padding has a PVC or leather covering, depending on whether it is a luxury vehicle or a less expensive model. On upscale models, the trim on the dash consists of high-quality materials, as well.
Regardless of the materials or instrumentation designed into a dashboard, keeping a dashboard in good condition improves the overall safety of a vehicle and keeps the vehicle looking great. When a dashboard becomes damaged as a result of an accident, sun exposure, or other causes, you should replace it. You can self-install the dashboard or pay someone else to handle it. Completing the task yourself saves money and ensures the dashboard matches your preferences. Tools and dashboard components can be found online on eBay or through traditional auto parts vendors.
How to Replace a Dashboard
When owners replace dashboards themselves, they need to make sure they know how to complete the task successfully, and this includes gathering the proper tools for the job. Required tools include Phillips screwdrivers, flat head screwdrivers, and crescent wrenches. The following steps detail how to replace a dashboard in a vehicle.
Disconnect the car's battery. Vehicle owners must do this to protect themselves from the electrical circuits that are exposed by removing their dashboards. Failing to do so can result in electrical shock, and this can result in significant personal injury or even death.
Empty the glove compartment of its contents and store everything nearby. Since an owner must remove the whole front side of the car's interior, removing the compartment's contents keeps everything more organised and out of the way while installing the new dashboard.
Next, unplug all of the various instruments located on the dashboard. Installers should tag each wire as it is unplugged, along with its corresponding connector, to make it easier to reconnect everything once the new dashboard is installed. Owners can use masking tape and a marker to do this.
Next, using a Phillips head screwdriver and crescent wrench, remove all of the screws, bolts, and the various panels from the dashboard area. This includes those around the instrument cluster, the air vents, steering wheel, and glove box. Place any screws that are removed into a small container to keep them from getting lost.
Using a flat head screwdriver, carefully remove the old dashboard. As owners remove dashboards, they need to look for any screws or bolts that still need to be taken out. Also, make sure you do not crack any of the screw holes or tabs on the vehicle, as you might need these resources when attaching the new dashboard.
Find the Vehicle Identification Number on the old dashboard. Remove it and attach it to the new dashboard.
With the help of a friend, fit the new dashboard into place. Do not put in any screws until you are satisfied that the new dashboard aligns correctly. Once assured that the new dashboard fits properly, replace the various screws, bolts, and panels.
Fit all of the various air vents, the glove compartment, steering wheel, and instruments back into place, replacing any screws or bolts that were removed during disassembly. At this point, reconnect the wiring to its proper positioning.
Reconnect the cables to the car battery and make sure everything works properly. This includes checking all the dash lights, instruments, radio, and the heater and air conditioner.
Dashboard Care Tips
After installing new dashboards, vehicle owners should take care of them to extend their life cycles. This includes cleaning the dashboard and treating it with materials to help prevent cracking. The section below contains various tips for dashboard care.
When cleaning dirt and debris from a dashboard, use a vacuum cleaner. The tip of the vacuum cleaner should have a feathered tip or soft bristles to keep the dashboard from being scratched.
Use a soft-bristled brush to dust the lattice on heating/air vents. For hard-to-remove stains, use multipurpose cleaner and a toothbrush, taking care not to scratch the material. Never spray fluids directly into the vents. Wet the toothbrush or use a cotton swab to apply the cleaner instead.
When cleaning the dashboard, use water-based cleaners or ones that contain UV protection. Cleaners with UV protection can extend the life of the dashboard material by protecting it from the sun's harmful rays.
Avoid using cleaners and protectants that have silicone. The silicone can create a glare that could potentially blind drivers temporarily when the sun hits it. The liquid could also stick to the dashboard, making it unattractive once it dries out.
Only use approved products, as those meant for other areas of the car can damage the dashboard. Also, take care not to inhale cleaner fumes when cleaning.
Avoid using soap or detergent mixed with water. These items can dull the finish of the dashboard and cause it to fade.
Another option for vehicle owners involves using covers to protect their dashboards. These covers keep the harmful rays of the sun from damaging the materials in the dashboard. They also keep dashboards from becoming too hot, which is extremely helpful because heat is another reason dashboards develop cracks that eventually cause them to require replacement. Additionally, dashboard covers keep dirt and debris, which can scratch or dull the surface, away from the dashboards. Covers are available in a wide variety of materials.
Dashboard Cover Materials
Not only do dashboard covers protect vehicles' dashboards, they also give dashboards custom looks. Often called dash mats, the table below details some of the materials available for these covers.
The most common dashboard cover material
Made of low-pile carpet
Ideal for driving in sunlight due to reduced glare
Velour Dashboard Cover
Soft and luxurious material
Durable and can stand up to temperature extremes without changing shape or shrinking
Suede Dashboard Cover
Gives a dashboard a classy look with a smooth luxury feel
Specially treated to give a fine sheen
Easy to clean
Moulded Dashboard Cover
Imparts a smooth, seamless look
Features a poly-carpet exterior
Thermo-formed backing moulds to every contour
Fashion Print Dashboard Cover
Allows vehicle owners to add a custom, personalised look
Includes a wide variety of designs
Made of same material as carpet dashboard mats
Dashboard mats can be used as more than covers to protect new dashboards. Vehicle owners can also use dashboard mats to cover damaged dashboards until they can have them repaired or replaced.
Finding Vehicle Dashboards on eBay
Once you are ready to search for vehicle dashboards online, go to eBay's home page. Once there, type search terms into the search box. Use terms like 'BMW dashboard' or 'black dashboard', for example, to begin your search. Remember to use terms that are as specific and descriptive as possible so that the results that pop up after your search very closely match your preferences. After viewing the list of results, click on the filter options listed on the page to display the listings that have the exact characteristics you want. Visit eBay's Search Tips page to read about searching for products quickly and more effectively. Also visit eBay Shops that are run by sellers who specialise in the types of products you need.
Once you identify a seller who has an appealing product, look at the seller's feedback rating to make sure other shoppers had a great experience when purchasing from him or her. This feedback gives you an inside look into a seller's integrity, customer service skills, and product quality. Read the listing in detail and take notice of the product's specifications, including cost, quality, size, colour, and any other pertinent terms of sale. Click the Ask a Question link on the seller's listing page to contact the seller directly.
The dashboard of a vehicle acts as a vital part of a vehicle's interior and serves many varied purposes. As an example, the dashboard helps keep the driver and front passenger safe while serving as a convenient area to place the various gauges and indicators that are crucial to the safe operation of a vehicle. Dashboards can also say a lot about the class of the vehicle itself, with more luxurious vehicles featuring high-end materials like leather on their dashboards. Less costly vehicles tend to have vinyl or velour as a dashboard covering.
Regardless of the material, vehicle owners need to care for their dashboards in order to extend the amount of time they last. Proper care and maintenance also saves owners the expense of replacing their dashboards at some point in the future. However, when a dashboard does need replacement, shoppers can find replacement dashboards at local auto parts shops, online at one of the various websites that sell automotive replacement parts, and online on eBay.